The senior subjects of the documentary Some Kind of Heaven are taking different things away from their movie star experience.
The production wrapped filming in Florida’s massive planned community for retirees, The Villages, in the summer of 2019. It premiered a few weeks ago in theaters and streaming on demand.
Dennis Dean, the 83-year-old California drifter who in the film cruises community pools looking for well-off women who might provide him a cushy lifestyle, said he’s still crashing in his van and working his pick-up “system.” He’s just not in The Villages anymore.
The community, apparently, frowns upon non-residents camping in their vehicles and using the amenities. His strategy for a while, when the deputies in one county questioned him, was to drive off and park in the next one. The Villages takes up parts of three counties.
“They finally caught up with me,” Dean said recently. “You have to have a guest pass to go to the pools and the rec centers, and I was getting guest passes from all kinds of women and buddies. They finally looked in the computer and said that’s it. I’m flagged.”
He drove north to the Ocala area where, he said, the people are nicer and he has several women helping him out, “for free,” with a T-shirt business and printing his emails. He doesn’t consider himself homeless — “I’ve got a van, with a refrigerator in it, but I do have coffee in the morning with some homeless guys.”
He saw the movie with a large audience at a theater. A couple he met at a bar heard he was in it, started buying him beers, and then they all went together. “They wanted to get in on the action,” Dean said. He stood on the sidewalk out front greeting people when it ended. Now he’s hoping the attention can help him produce his rock-themed reality talk show for the internet, “where women tell stories about their sex lives,” filmed at hot rod car shows.
But, true to the easygoing spirit that comes across in his parts of the film, he’s not too worried about it.
“Things always seem to come along,” he said. “My whole life’s been that way.”
Some Kind of Heaven director Lance Oppenheim said that although the film has done well with digital rentals, becoming one of Magnolia Pictures’ top-performing films of the past year, some Villages residents and officials have given it an icy reception.
One executive who heads recreation for The Villages Community Development District sent a memo to all Villages clubs requesting residents avoid it as “this movie does not do justice to our experience. Giving attention to this film only fuels its popularity. I am simply asking you, as I did back in May, to please help us protect our community and each other.”
The Villages Daily Sun newspaper and Villages News Network cable channel, owned by The Villages’ developers, made zero mention of a movie produced by Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky and filmed in their own backyard. The movie was a hot-button issue for debates on message boards and social media groups for residents.
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“It’s split. Some people are very defensive, the sort of Villages maniacs who love everything about the place. I’m not sure if they’ve even seen it. Some just abjectly hate it because it’s made by an outsider,” Oppenheim said. “I don’t see this as a negative film. So I was sad that the developers didn’t like it or want it to exist.”
The director “picked four people who were having issues, and not really living the ideal Villages lifestyle, and they’re probably angry about that,” said Barbara Lochiatto, 62, another of the film’s main subjects, who is shown navigating loneliness after the death of her husband. “But we are not the only people here going through problems.
“A friend of mine next door wrote me a testy little note saying it doesn’t represent us, and I wrote back and said I don’t care. Turns out she’d only seen the trailer, but her friends told her about it.”
Lochiatto said she hoped others would see the movie and at least realize they’re not alone going through things. She has not been recognized from the movie in the Villages, but did receive a card from a woman in Wyoming telling her that she’d “sparkled” on screen. “It was the nicest thing. I cried that night.”
Lochiatto hoped someone might see her in the film and cast her “in a commercial or something.” She has long dreamed of acting professionally. In a way, now she has. She delivers a monologue in front of an acting group in one of the film’s final scenes.
“I’ll carry that with me forever,” she said.
Reggie Kincer, 75, said he is enjoying the recognition from the movie. A woman driving by flagged him down as he was standing in his front yard the other day to tell him she loved it, and he’s been asked for an autograph on the golf course.
In the film, Kincer dances, waves a machete and deals with a court case for possession of a small amount of cocaine. The situation puts a strain on his marriage with his wife, Anne.
“The only thing in that movie that makes me cringe is when I was in court and wouldn’t let the judge talk,” Kincer said. “I told the judge I thought he had a nice, shiny face, and he really did.”
The Kincers said things are better with their marriage now — Anne credits counseling — but the legal problems continue.
After the movie was filmed, court records show that Kincer was arrested on charges of trafficking phenethylamines and possession of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, stemming from a Homeland Security raid on his Villages home.
Kincer said he does not think he’ll go to jail, in part because he’s staying positive and manifesting a good outcome.